How A Vitamin Deficiency Can Impact Male Fertility

When people discuss male fertility issues, the conversation tends to focus on sperm quality, which is usually further divided into mobility and quantity. In particular, having a low sperm count can make conception increasingly difficult since there is less sperm present to fertilize a woman’s eggs successfully. And for a man to be diagnosed with a low sperm count, the semen must contain less than 15 million sperm per milliliter. But could a nutritional imbalance be the cause of poor sperm quality?

MY Texas Health Care OBGYN Can Zinc Affect Fertility? Zinc Deficiency & Low Sperm Count

How zinc impacts fertility

Along with helping to decrease the length of illnesses, the vitamin plays a vital role in preparing a man or woman’s reproductive system for conception. Zinc is the second most abundant element found in human tissue, after iron. In women, zinc is directly linked to the egg’s ability to divide into additional cells successfully. When a zinc deficiency is present, those egg cells produced were often smaller than average and struggled to divide, leading to unsuccessful fertilization.

Zinc’s link to sperm quality

While most fertility conversations center on women and factors that increase or decrease the likelihood of conception, zinc is a vitamin that’s equally vital for men too. Just as in women, zinc deficiencies in men are linked with poor reproductive cells. Specifically, a 2018 study found that men with zinc deficiency were more likely to exhibit abnormalities in semen such as disfigured sperm or, in some cases, lower sperm counts.

The connection between zinc and testosterone

Additionally, experts know that zinc works to balance hormones in both men and women. While zinc regulates progesterone in women, in men, the vitamin directly impacts testosterone. Testosterone is a vital hormone that regulates sexual health in men.

How zinc deficiencies occur

The most common cause of zinc deficiency is a poor diet. Often people aren’t eating enough zinc-rich foods. But another common cause of zinc deficiency is over-exercising. People who engage in sustained high-intensity workouts are often more at risk for increased nutrient loss.

Zinc deficiency can be addressed

Unlike some of the more intensive fertility issues, poor sperm quality related to a zinc deficiency can be quickly addressed. Before attempting to treat the condition independently, always check with a physician to confirm that the infertility is directly connected to not getting enough zinc. Zinc is a mineral that’s plentiful in meats, fish, shellfish, and eggs. But if necessary, zinc supplements can also help if a man is a vegetarian or vegan and can’t get the mineral from diet alone. For more information, speak with a healthcare provider.

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